happy halloween!

hope you get lots of candy ....... xo

* love live halloween block by danita

stop waiting for THE opportunity, the one you have IS the opportunity

We may be waiting on the perfect job for the perfect customer

(the job that will make us a household name like Windex or Brillo or ... uh, wait, not them, like Martha, yeah that's better like Martha or the project that will keep us busy with something challenging for awhile)

the problem with waiting is that it leaves us ... well, waiting. It is a pretty reactive place to be.

And I am not talking about going out and making it happen in this post

(although yes, we do have to do that sometimes, although maybe not as often as you might think)

but about just taking the job that you have in your hand, the one that you have done before, the one that you could do in your sleep, the one that is on your work table right now and making that job THE job.

Get out of that ego place that tells us that we are not doing enough - be joyful about that bird in hand.

*bird in the hand print by Tammy Olson

NOTE - I wrote this post several weeks ago and for some reason never posted it. I pulled it out today because I still feel it is valid and timely and hope someone will resonate with it.

The truth for me these days, is that there are so many bigger things going on in the world that talking about business right now feels very small potatoes

(as my grandma would have said - sniffle)

and I feel a certain sense of disconnect with it. At least in terms of posting about growing our businesses - what I really want to be writing about is this incredible opportunity we have as creators to be helping the world evolve into something better ... and maybe I will ....


Upcycled Wood & String Name Plaques - Handmade Holiday Gift Countdown Week 5

You have probably seen these wood letters in the craft store and this is one easy-peasy way to make them uber cool!

You will need: the letters to spell someone's name or initials, wire brads (I used 3/4" X 17), colored string, hammer, I got away without drilling starter holes- but you could split the wood, so if you have a drill it might be a good idea, sawtooth hangers

1. Add a sawtooth hanger to the back of each letter (I didn't do this step until the end and you do not want to do that)
2. Nail in your brads - placing one each time the line of the letter changes direction - you may need to glue the brads in
3. Tie on your string and follow the brads. Tie it off.

Voila! I think these are super cute and turn those cheesy letters into something adorable.

GIVEAWAY - Christine's Beadworks Amazing Custom Bottle Cap Recycled CUFF! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK!

Chosen by random.org
True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 273
Result: 113

Trisha! Congratulations Trisha and thank you to everyone who entered - please think of Christine for your holiday shopping everyone!

Christine's Beadworks is the totally amazing Michigan shop of maker Christine Wilson.

To Christine, design is one part inspiration, one part craftsmanship and several parts perseverance. She says, "If you enjoy what you are doing, you'll find the time, energy and skills to make it work."

Christine has a deep admiration for design, but it's the construction that really captures her imagination.

(her love and passion for process is so evident in her incredibly beautiful and detailed work!)

"The building of the piece from the selection of color to the layering of elements brings true joy into my designs. It would be impossible for me to imagine it without touching and doing it at the same time."

(don't we love that)

She utilizes unusual stones and artwork in her designs as well as recycled materials. Christine love's bottlecaps! There is something about these little miniature works of advertising artistry that have captured her imagination. She says, "So much is said in such a small space; they are a true testament to the power of simplicity in design. I'm proud to reclaim them from an inglorious end in a landfill and to enhance their artistry with my own."

We are so lucky to have one of Christine's amazing pieces for this week's giveaway!


One lucky winner will receive a CUSTOM cuff from Christine! Your choice of bottle cap (if she can find the cap) and your choice for the cuff from the belts she has on hand!


It's easy, peasy - just pop over to Christine's Beadworks and then pop back here and let Christine know in the comments below which of her amazing goodies is your fave!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post (5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog (5) Like me on Facebook (5) Like Christine on Facebook
Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

Enter by midnight, Sunday, November 5th! Good Luck! CLOSED

Candle in the Wind Part lll - what to do when that flame is becoming a flicker

Soo ... even though I think in its early stages burnout

(or maybe we will just call it burn down - because it is the down but not out stage of business passion)

is a totally good thing - a part of the ebb that leads to the flow and cannot totally be avoided when you truly care about what you are doing.

The trick is to catch it when it is a tap on the shoulder

(ahem ... Ms. Cat, do you really think we should be doing that again - I am b-o-r-e-d)

and not wait until we have already hit the brick wall; car totaled, in the shop and being sweated over by a guy with MOTHER tattooed on his left arm.

So, when that litle voice starts whispering to you that if you have to wrap one more bead, center one more mound of clay, crochet one more stitch - you will need to be hospitalized - it is time to take action.

1. And sometimes this action can be inaction in the form of time away from your makings. Spend time away from work - turn off the computer, get out of your studio and do something else (how much time away you need depends on how close to that brick wall you find yourself - don't rush it)

2. Make something new that you will never, ever sell I think it makes us less creative to only make things we can make money with. It is always good to exercise your artistic muscles in new and unexpected ways.

3. Change your process - change your tools, change your schedule, change your suppliers - if you normally do steps in large batches, try making a piece from start to finish with a focus on each step, if you normally do things from start to finish - try doing each step in large batches, you might be surprised how little changes in process or technique can create big changes in your thinking.

4. New places = new inspiration - Janell of Dancing Mooney says, "just when I thought I was bored to death with making jewelry, I came across an amazing vintage supplies shop that instantly sparked my creativity again ..."

4. Change your materials -Julie Boyles says "Early in the summer it became clear to me that how I was doing things wasn't working for me anymore. The journals and cases I made had become very much like work, and it got to the point if I had to color and antique ONE more piece of leather I might fall apart. So I made a big change. I upgraded the leathers I'm working with, and have my passion and excitement back again. Whew. Every new piece I do is a thrill!"

5. Do something else - you are not supposed to be doing the same thing forever - knowledge comes from experience and experience is in the past, so yes, it's safe, but it's also already out of date - do something else. Kathy Jeffords says (after doing something else), "what I'm doing now IS me, as much as the big eyed girls are. Because my bottom line, my brand, ME is that I want to make people smile, I want to create a world filled with possibilities and positivity and I want to tell stories."

6. Rearrange your creative space - it is easier to make beautiful things in a beautiful place - don't cheap out on this.

7. Connect with other creative people - this is HUGE. If you can meet with other people regularly, people who are not afraid to tell you why they do not like things (you totally do not have to listen to them) - people who think big and want to do amazing work - you can really shorten your burn-down periods (and help other creatives shorten theirs).

8. Get some sleep (enuf said)
9. Get some exercise (ugh- enuf said)

10. Focus on the present moment. When our attention is fragmented - we are fragmented and fragmented creatives will not be creating anything that will make anyone gasp or anyone's heart beat faster - which is kind of our job actually.

Keep your thoughts in the present moment as much as possible. When you are painting - paint, when you are doing the dishes - do the dishes, stay focused.

It is important that we recognize the creative power of our thoughts through all of this and stay positive. It is a power far beyond our knowledge (because knowledge is rooted in the past) and our real power is in the present moment (when we are in the presence of something bigger than ourselves).

Life will only offer up so much to us when we are enmeshed in negative thinking (ie fear), since thoughts are things, spread like disease and are the stuff that wars and days spent in bed with the covers over our heads are made of.

We are where our attention takes us, actually we are our attention. We are either making the world better here or crippling the planet - I am totally serious - we are that important.

And when we stay in the present moment life will offer up everything we need to know about what to do next - the answer will always come as our first spontaneous impulse. Be attentive.

I think the more passion we have for our makings the harder we fall when that passion wanes. Will we lose the joy with our makings when we start a business relationship with them? Yes, we will (many times).

But we can move from that place into a deeper place. Or we will find a way to do it differently that is more aligned with your heart.

We will not be making these makings forever my friends - we are bigger than our makings and it is our job to be fearless.

* I know a girl print by TheMemoryGallery

(NOTE - I have included quotes that were left as comments on my last 2 posts in this series from some amazing makers because these girls said it much better than I can - I hope they don't mind)

Being a Candle in the Wind or keeping the passionate spark for our business burning without burning ourselves out - Part ll

So, I was totally going into Part ll of this series by talking about the kind of things we can do to prevent passion burnout, sort of
(because I don't think burnout is really preventable when we are doing work that demands our passionate connection

and is actually part of the ebb and flow of the creative process - the place that creates the space to do something new, paints us into a corner, forces us into the uncomfortable and unfamiliar and often turns out to be exactly where we need to go at exactly the moment we need to go there)

... things that are remarkably similar to those things that keep the passion going in our other relationship - things like time apart (from our regular makings), changes in our routine and studio (I can often give myself a second wind and whole new outlook just from rearranging the furniture in my studio space), connecting with other creatives, diversifying our makings, bringing in some fresh blood, etc and I will talk about these things, but am moving them into Part III which I have just decided there has to be, because I think Part II needs to be about us and our branding.

First thing to remember about your business and your brand is that it is a living, breathing "being" and other people's perception of us factors into it

(yes, I hate that part, too)

And it moves in strange ways. It's not about vertical movement - the ladder is gone (who the hell stole that ladder - I really want to thank that guy!) - that's not the way businesses grow anymore - at least I don't think so, at least not maker businesses.

(which are different than non-maker businesses in so many ways, it would take me days and days to write about all of them)

We grow like weeds and vines and have to think like Billy Joel here we're not "moving up" - we're "moving out"

(of boxes and comfort zones)

Your business moves like a game of chess. You go sideways, you go forward, you slide over on the diagonal, you even go backwards when that makes sense

(and sometimes even when it doesn't but you just need to catch your breath and you totally get to do that because this isn't really a game and no one is keeping score here)

And because this business that is you is going to be around a long time and move in so many ways and in so many places - you really need to get clear on your brand.

You need to know what you stand for here because you need to be able to change - change is good - and you need to be able to stay true to your brand because your brand is you. And if your brand is you this is actually an easy thing to do and a terribly hard thing to do ... at the same time.

What makes you different? What makes you remarkable? What is your “secret recipe”? (wait, don't tell me) - How do you add value to the people who buy from you? How do you add value to the people who interact with you? Is your brand consistent, is it authentic and honest?

(note - you will not see me rocking any major (or minor) bling or writing about hair care products or the power of crystals because they don't represent my brand and the reason I know they do not represent my brand is that they do not represent me and I am my brand)

So, if we are clear on our brand - what we do that makes us special and more importantly why we do it, any changes will make sense for us.

And if we are going to keep that "falling in love" passion for our businesses things are going to need to change now and then and yes, we can totally change things, and need to because this thing is alive, and we can totally still stay true to ourselves and our brand.

Often when you've lost that lovin' feeling it is a process problem. You need to make some changes to your process - which we will talk about in Part III on Friday.

In the meantime, if you are feeling a lack of passion for things just remember that very feeling (or lack of feeling) is a wonderful gift to us and the universe is stirring up a little (or a lot) of discontentment within us to spark the changes we need to make!

* candle in the wind photo by adesigna on flickr

Part lll of Being a Candle in the Wind on Friday

DISCLAIMER - Since I just got an email from someone saying this post made them feel bad because they really are just making stuff they like to make and trying to sell that stuff and they are not a brand and what I would say to that is first - you must take everything I say as just something someone out there is saying because I most often do not know what I am talking about.

And second - I would say that if you have a business you have a brand - it may be scattered and inconsistent at this point, but there is still a "why" behind what you do - why you choose to make the makings you make and why you sell them.

This is all a process and none of us gets this stuff right all the time, but if you are not having fun anymore whether you have sold 9 or 90 or 900 of your whatchamacallits, it may be helpful to get clear on what you are doing and why you are doing it and what makes you special (your brand) before making any changes.

Soda Crate Upcycled Tutorial - Soda Crate to Magnet Board - Xmas Countdown Week #4

Soda crates are super-easy to find online and at flea markets and this is another simple upcycle to turn one into an awesome magnet board organization shelf. Makes an especially cool gift for a teenager this holiday season!

(you can also make this with a cork bottom - just use foam under the cork to add stability and thickness for your pushpins!)

you will need : an old soda crate, sheetmetal (available at any hardware store or big box home center), foamboard, glue, sawtooth hangers, glazier points, ruler, drill, bottle caps

Measure the inner area of the bottom section of your crate - note - you can also use a soda crate with one opening and fill the entire area - cut pieces of foam core to fill the inner edge, glue foam core edges together and slide into bottom opening, cut sheetmetal to fit, add glazier points with flathead screwdriver, add sawtooth hangers to back, flatten bottle caps with a mallet

(optional, but I never miss a chance to hammer anything with a mallet - trust me, get yourself a mallet)

glue magnets to back of caps - I added little wood backings that I had from scrap cuttings and screwed my caps to them

To get yourself a soda crate check out these wonderful sellers on Etsy HERE

your relationship with your other ball and chain (at least if you are a jewelry maker) ...

Being a professional maker - which means making things that you sell -

no matter how many of those things you are actually selling

is kind of like having another marriage -

(or a first marriage for you singletons or another civil union for those who are unjustly unable to even get married in the first place)

a marriage - that hopefully started with the falling in love part -

maybe love at first sight

(which I am pretty sure I have never experienced with man or makings)

or maybe the love that grows on you over time until you are thinking "hey, I think I've got something here"

(which I find to be true of both man and makings ... *winks at hubs*)

And that marriage started out with passion with a capital P - it was red hot - you could have fried an egg on your brain it was working so hard

(or maybe that was when you were on drugs, I forget, but there was some egg frying at some point, I'm sure).

I mean we were up all night with this stuff - our heads and hands full of ideas. We couldn't sleep. We couldn't eat (well, except for me, I can always eat, actually). We were creating.

This is what we will call the "falling in love" part of building a business, the fun part, the part where dreams are made flesh in the form of ingenious and original little whoseewhatsees (yes, I said whoseewhatsee).

But, alas just like any marriage this honeymoon phase is destined to give way eventually to the "you must work at it - this stuff is work, did you think you were going to get to party like it's 1999 forever" part of building our business -

the part that separates the men from the boys, the one night stands from the relationships, the divorce lawyers from the 25 year anniversary dinners.

And this working part of our business is just as important as the working part of a marriage until ... well, until it just isn't working anymore ...

which is the reason you need a brand and not a business, a brand and not a product, a brand that is all about you - so when the working part isn't working for you anymore

(this is not a death til us part kind of marriage after all)

you can saunter off (yes, I said saunter) in a new direction and take your people (ie cohorts, friends, customers) with you while still staying true to your brand because you are your brand.

You are your brand, right? That is a kind of important part of my theory here because when the working part is just not working for you, you need to be able to make changes. A creative without that passionate honeymoon phase to fire 'em up once in a while (this is an open marriage after all) will find the work to be well ... work. And when your makings become just work to you, well, people can tell and most importantly you can tell.

When artists become business people who are left to be artists?

(disclaimer - I stole borrowed this line from an HBO mini series about doctors, but I think it applies equally to creatives)

Passion must come first or we are just business people who make things.

(and that sounds like an awful thing to be and would look just crappy on your business card)

And, keeping that passionate spark lit in the midst of production and business thinking can be a challenge; maybe the biggest challenge of your business.

Part II later this week - Being a Candle in the Wind

* just because I love you card by TheWallaroo

if I stand on my tippy toes ....

... I can see the weekend from here ...

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

A few of my lockets are being relaunched on Daily Grommet with free shipping this weekend. The lockets include Danitashop, Rachel Demsick (getreadysetgo), Dilkabear, Gollybard, Kathy Jeffords (DreamyGiraffe), Jodie Hurt, Jennifer Mullin and House of Six Cats all in the mini size!

Check it out here - just forward past the awful part where I speak (I filmed this last year for the original launch and it is very cringe-worthy).


Upcycled Tutorial - Plastic Tube Necklace with Switchable Inserts and VALENTINE'S DAY LOVE NOTE!

This week an awesome changeable design necklace you can make for an amazing gift!

The paper inside the plastic tubing easily switches out for different looks and you can package this with a few slips of colorful scrapbook paper.

For the supplies to make one of these yourself - just add your own colorful papers and a little elbow grease - contact me by 2/7/15 using the LET'S CHAT button, lower right column. There is just a $2.00 shipping fee to get one set right out to you.

You will need: clear plastic malleable tubing from the hardware store, end plugs (you can use plastic, but I have used cork, of course), eyehooks, cording, (2) sliprings, design paper

1. cut tubing to the size you would like (I've cut mine to 2.5")
2. screw eyehooks into your end caps
3. add slipring and tie on your cording
4. cut paper to size (I've cut mine to 1.5")
5. roll paper and push into the center, add your ends
6. cut and tie off your cording (I have added hardware to mine)

This makes a great kid's project, too - if you can get the kids making your gifts for you, you will be way ahead of the game!

(and by way ahead of the game, I mean passed out on the couch, feet up, pinot empty on the coffee table)

Don't forget to add a little LOVE NOTE for Valentine's Day to the back of the paper!

the bermuda triangle for makers ....

You may or may not have ever seen the triangle of customer expectations and it may or may not have ever actually been called this, but I think it is kind of catchy and one of those 'made to stick' phrases you will be talking about at the dinner table tonight

or maybe save it for when you are trying to get your kids to sleep- it might work better then.

(in case you haven't seen it or thought about how it might relate to your maker business, I have updated it for us here to be a little more memorable - in a marching band, geeky kind of way)

This is what your customer wants. They want it fast, they want it great and they want it cheap. And this is exactly what you cannot give them if you want to stay in business.

They can have 2 out of 3 and in fact you probably have to provide 2 out of 3, but provide all 3 and you will be doomed.

*cue the dramatic music*

(yes, doomed - this may sound a little melodramatic, but you will not last long providing excellent, fast and cheap makings, trust me)

So you can make 'em good and cheap, but not fast

or good and fast but not cheap

or fast and cheap but not good ... you get the idea

I remember this chart from my days at a 'real job'. They handed it out on an orange 'slow moving vehicle' triangle that is for some reason burned into my brain.

(yes, the same brain that cannot remember if I fed the dog or where I put my keys or if I bought my hubby an anniversary card ... seriously what the hell happened to that card? and I have to keep this guy happy or we will have no one to cook for us or kill the stinkbugs)

So, I will leave everyone to ponder over the triangle's wisdom - keeping it short and sweet this week after last week's mini-rant against shop local got me quite a few emails from unhappy campers thinking I had misunderstood the concept - you would think I had ranted against babies and kittens for pete's sake - which I am planning to rant against next week actually ... especially those damn kittens ....

Giveaway - XENOTEES Fork Tea Towel! **Some total handmade amazingness for your kitchen!** CLOSED


True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 482
Result: 295

Powered by RANDOM.ORG = Bee W Bedard! Congrats Brenda!!

The girl who put the tee in eTsy is now putting the tea in eTsy!

Noelle Burke is Xenotees - the amazing Philadelphia artist and screenprinter who is one of the nicest and most talented people I know!

Everything in Xenotees amazing shop is professionally screen printed by Noelle and her hubby Neil, in their cozy little Pennsylvania workshop.

They only print on products that are ethically produced & they use as many eco-friendly processes as possible. Xenotees is dedicated to being as green as possible & they recycle voraciously! Oh, and their designs are 100% original - no clip-art here folks!

Noelle makes the most amazingly gorgeous, soft and original t's (I am addicted to mine as well as my scarves) wine bags, tea towels and scarves!


One lucky winner will receive this amazing Xenotees tea towel!


It's easy, peasy - just pop over to Xenotees and then pop back here and let Noelle know in the comments below which of her amazing goodies is your fave!

For additional entries:

(5) Twitter this post
(5) Blog about this contest; linking to this post
(5) Follow my blog
(5) Facebook this post

Let me know if you have done these things so I can give you additional entries. This contest is open to everyone.

Enter by midnight, Sunday, October 23rd! Good Luck!

Upcycled Tutorial - Drawer Repurposed into a Map Shelf - Xmas Gift Countdown Week 2

This week's easy peasy upcycled gift is a beautiful little shelf repurposed from an old drawer.

There are really countless things you can make shelves with, but an old drawer creates lots of little cubbies and crannies for your whatnots and the background can easily be fitted with something amazing!

(in this case a vintage map of Europe)

you will need: drawer, map, spray adhesive, scissors, tape measure, yardstick, hammer, sawtooth hangers

This is one of those measure twice, cut once projects - so measure your openings (easiest with a tape measure) and then mark and measure your map (easiest with a yardstick) - the idea is to have the map look like one solid piece when hanging so cut your interior pieces so they line up with each other.

Layout your cut pieces into the drawer and make any adjustments with your scissors or a razor knife. Remove your pieces. Spray your interior wood working from the top down. Lay out your paper (this stuff dries fast so work quickly, to adjust - lift and don't try to slide). When you have it positioned in the right place press it into place - I used an old VHS tape because ...

well, what else can we do with them ....

Add a couple sawtooth hangers to the back and you have a wonderful (and huge ... everyone loves big presents) gift for someone special.

(Note- if you decide to do this project and need a couple sawtooth hangers just drop me an email through the link at right and I will pop a couple in the mail to you at no cost - I have hundreds)

A series of these shelves on a wall would be amazing. To find a vintage map, check THIS link

no matter how flat you make a pancake ....

I love my local brick and mortars

and believe me my love and support requires some effort on my part because I live in a very small town where stores sometimes sell ... well, a whole lot of crap actually.

And, I understand that these store owners are working with a limited budget these days and an even more limited customer base and they sometimes need some creative thinking to survive and sometimes that creative thinking requires a strange combination of the things my town needs (?) - we have an Irish Gift Shop/Electrical Supply Store (there was a psychic in there for a few months - not sure why she couldn't tell it wasn't going to work out for her there) - we used to have a video store/dry cleaner, an ice cream store/tanning salon and a print shop/dog food store.

Although my all-time favorite local combination store is in a surrounding town and called Crickets and Cream.

They sell - you guessed it- crickets (ie reptile food) and creams (handmade) - they also practice a little holistic medicine (ie witchcraft) and I was once talked into a chair in the middle of the store where the one sister waved some smoke around me to clear my aura for a better look while the other sister helped a little boy and his mother buy some breakfast for his pet lizard, Harry. It was wonderful.

Anyhoo, since I have spent money in all these stores and even shop in my local grocery store every other shopping trip

(if you could see this store and then see the amazing Trader Joe's that has gone up an hour away, you would totally feel my pain with this, but I know if the locals treat our local grocer as a Seven Eleven, it will close down and that’s all we will end up with)

I totally get and agree with the shop local movement … to an extent ...

I would love to support local gift shops … and do … when they sell the things I want to buy - I am not going to buy a China made something or other (which I just assume everything not handmade to be) just to purchase something at a local gift shop unless they can tell me the name of the woman who made that something or other and a bit about her wages and working conditions (and if she ever gets to see her children).

I am 100% behind shopping local when it comes to food and think all our food should be produced locally on small farms (large farms and in particular cattle farms are environmental disasters)

(and I do not throw the word disaster around lightly, believe me, well... except when it comes to my hair ... and my closets ... and my studio ...)

with minimal environmental transportation side effects and maximum freshness.

But on my recent trips to Portland and Asheville I have to admit that all the bombardment of shop local signs in the store windows made me feel, well, a little like heading back to my town’s Irish Gift Shop and spending my money there.

It feels a little less than welcoming to a visitor; like some exclusive club a girl from the suburbs like me doesn’t get to belong to- it sometimes felt a little like a place I didn’t want to give my money to.

(yes, I know I am dangling a participle here- we’ll just ignore my bad grammar, as always)

I may be a little jaded from stores who tell me they really want to carry my lines, but only buy from local artists and from Etsy’s push to promote shop local

(huh- isn’t it an internet as in "world wide web" shopping site)

I know 99% of my sales leave my home state and 28% leave the U.S., so shopping local is not something internet shoppers are looking for or why would they be on the internet in the first place, no one wants to pay shipping costs - if we could get it at our local mom and pop we would.

When shop local knocks heads with shop handmade I will be shopping handmade and whether those hands were working in Australia or one block from my house doesn‘t affect my buying.

Now mass produced goods are a whole other story.

We need a local manufacturing focus supported by a local buying focus which I truly believe will happen once big companies really understand through their bottom line that their jobless consumers can’t afford to consume without a paycheck (and realize China's business tax rates are going up).

I think there is room for everyone though, so I will shop local when they sell what I want and always when they sell what I need or love and can't live without

(please figure this out local store owner!)

but continue to spend my money supporting handmade makings everywhere.

I know that all of us and in particular people living in cities that they love tend to become very location-centric in their thinking and I really do get the pluses in this, but there may also be just a couple minuses to think about ... no matter how flat you make a pancake you're always gonna have two sides

(to quote my grandma)